Unplugged: Why Does Time Slow Down When We Are on Vacation?

My fiancee and I are lucky to be able to vacation in her hometown of Maine.  When we travel there, we often remark how relaxing it is to literally unplug from the frenetic pace of our professional and personal lives in the Beltway: no cell phone, no texting, no email, no television.  Without exception we return to DC refreshed, focused, the patterns of our thoughts and attention changed, life feeling slower.

One of the most exciting areas of research over the past decade is in the area of attention and focus.  It's one of the topics I will be tracking at Age of Engagement particularly as it relates to our ever escalating appetite for media multi-tasking. And its a topic I will be discussing in my courses this semester, reporting back on the insights and thoughts of students.

At the New York Times yesterday, reporter Matt Richtel ponders these questions, particularly the ability of experience in nature to relax and heal the mind.  In his feature, he profiles a group of leading neuroscientists as they attempt to unplug from their fast-paced research lives and take a canoe trip down the Glen Canyon in Utah. Among the bunch, there are both believers and skeptics about the evidence for the restorative power of an unplugged vacation and exactly just how damaging multi-tasking might be. 

The article is worth a slow, thoughtful read. Take your time and reflect on the role of attention in your life. Then wand over the picture at top.  Richtel introduces the story in a video interview and then in a 360 panorama, you can wand over each of the scientists and listen to their goals for the trip and outlook on attention and health.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less